The August issue of National Geographic contained an article on astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 consecutive days in space.
He took a book with him, “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage,” by Alfred Lansing, in which Lansing describes the incredible journey of Sir Ernest Shackleton across the Antarctic in 1914-1918.
The sheer brutality of the conditions there are hard to fathom, but astronaut Kelly felt that reading the book reminded him of how much harder those explorers’ lives were than his own and he stopped feeling sorry for himself alone in space.
His attitude and deliberate efforts to appreciate his conditions relative to others preserved his mental and physical well-being.
Kelly’s understanding of how a person’s attitude and perception can affect health is a potent reminder for each of us. Maybe we could learn from Kelly’s example and reflect periodically to appreciate what is right in our lives when we sometimes see only the flaws.
Clearly, there are real troubles in the world and some of our families at Fort Meade are facing serious problems each day. But many of us might benefit from reconsidering the magnitude of our problems.
We get frustrated and mad sometimes at the duration of traffic lights, people who text while driving, groundhogs, the really loud air conditioner in the hearing clinic, looking for parking spaces, waiting for housing, the continued use of fax machines, the inability to follow gate access instructions, people who shoplift cosmetics from the Exchange, the “resend all” button on email, and excessively long sentences.
But we’re blessed with many wonderful opportunities, too.
We enjoy living on a post with outstanding policemen and firefighters who save lives every day with their professional responses.
We enjoy wonderful community events like the free Lt. Dan Band concert on the parade field in May, the free activities and 30-minute fireworks display at our Red, White & Blue Celebration last month, and our award-winning National Night Out next week.
We enjoy incredibly supportive community partners who donate time, money, benefits and resources to our families, service members and civilians.
We enjoy access to excellent health care, on and off post, by some of the best providers in the medical and dental professions.
We enjoy great relationships with our seven Anne Arundel County schools on Fort Meade and the outstanding educators helping our children.
We enjoy good environmental stewardship that preserves as much green space as possible as D.C. and Baltimore sprawl toward each other (even if we don’t enjoy dodging goose droppings around Burba Lake).
As we experience another summer season of personnel arriving and departing Fort Meade, consider your influence on your neighbors, co-workers and family members as we welcome new arrivals to our post.
Please help others to have a fair perspective and enjoy life at our wonderful installation.